“Sad eyes never lie,” Bruce Springsteen sang on “Sad Eyes,” an outtake from his Human Touch album that was later released on his Tracks boxed set. I wonder if he left it off because the idea behind the lyrics is similar to the idea behind “Gloria’s Eyes.”
That doesn’t mean the two themes are exactly the same.
In “Sad Eyes,” the singer is interested in a woman who is involved with someone else; he’s not making a move, but is biding his time, hoping that she’ll leave the other guy. He really thinks she will, because he can tell from her eyes how unhappy she is.
In “Gloria’s Eyes,” on the other hand, the singer has fallen from grace in a relationship, and is now “just a fool in Gloria’s eyes.” Gloria came back, but it’s not the same. There’s “something gone” in Gloria’s eyes, he sings.
He’s still working hard, though, hoping his “love again will rise … like a shining torch in Gloria’s eyes.”
So anyway … “Sad Eyes” (a wistful ballad) and “Gloria’s Eyes” (a rough-edged rocker) are two very different songs. But perhaps Springsteen felt he couldn’t have two songs revolving around the idea of a woman’s eyes revealing an unsaid truth on the same album, and that played a part in keeping “Sad Eyes” off.
If so, I think he made the right choice. “Sad Eyes” — which became a minor hit for Enrique Iglesias when he recorded it in 1999 — has a catchy chorus but not much else. “Gloria’s Eyes,” I think, works better as a complete song. It’s certainly not Springsteen’s most ambitious work, but his larger-than-life anguish draws me in.
Background facts: “Gloria’s Eyes” is from Springsteen’s 1992 Human Touch album. He is backed on the track by bassist Randy Jackson, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan.
According to Brucebase, Springsteen performed “Gloria’s Eyes” 41 times at 1992 and 1993 concerts, but never since.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
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